STAR MEN (Alison E. Rose). 88 minutes. Opens Friday (February 12). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Four British astronomers celebrate a 50th reunion by setting out on the same road trip through the American Southwest that they enjoyed all those decades before.
Director Alison Rose tags along, listening to their reminiscences about the good ol’ days and soaking up their wisdom. The resulting documentary is both quaint and illuminating, since the small talk of such fascinating minds is never idle.
The astronomers are Roger Griffin, Donald Lynden-Bell, Nick Woolf and Wal Sargent, all Brits recruited to Pasadena during the space race, and all recognized for some significant contribution to the study of stars. They talk about looking through telescopes and studying space gas, and every so often those memories connect to 20th century history, offering a new perspective on WWII, the Cold War and the American 1960s.
Explanations about black holes and spectral light are neat, but these guys really get deep on their relationship to life, death and each other.
Their work on the grand scheme of things often makes everything else seem insignificant, yet in this road trip it’s their small human moments that feel big.